Grp Capt Dickie Dickinson, AFC: RAF pilot awarded American DFC for role in Korean war
- Credit: submitted
A career pilot with the Royal Air Force, Group Capt Dickie Dickinson, who has died aged 86, was decorated for 'extraordinary achievement' by the Americans during the Korea war.
As one of 24 RAF officers seconded to fly the United States Air Force's F-86 Sabre, he won the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down two Russian MiGs in 1953.
After his final posting as commanding officer of RAF Neatishead, he retired in 1981 and then became even more involved in local affairs, serving on the parish council at Ingham, near Stalham.
Born in India, where his father was a serving Army officer, Richard John Frederick Dickinson, always known as Dickie, graduated from Cranwell, Lincolnshire, in 1946 having learned to fly Tiger Moths. In his first posting to Palestine, he flew Spitfires.
In 1952, he was one of a handful of RAF fighter pilots sent to Nellis Air Force Base in the United States before joining 25th Fighter Interceptor Wing in Korea. In one action, at about 35,000 feet, when jumped by four MiGs, he survived a near mid-air collision by braking hard as one fighter came within 50 yards of his windscreen, as he wrote in the RAF Historical Society's records. A month later, in June 1953, when he fired guns in anger for the last time, he was credited with a confirmed kill and awarded the American DFC.
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Two years later he was at Woomera, Australia, where he flew Mustangs and Meteors, and in 1957 met and married, Merle, an air hostess.
In that year, they came to Norfolk where he trained as a Hunter pilot at RAF West Raynham, and later took command of 56 Squadron at Waterbeach, near Cambridge, also demonstrating Spitfires and Hurricanes. In 1960, he was awarded the Air Force Cross for his flying skills at an investiture at Buckingham Palace.
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In 1968, he flew Lightnings at RAF Coltishall and was the pilot of a Spitfire, when an exhibition flight featured the range of aircraft flown from the station including a Hurricane, Meteor, Hunter, Javelin and Lightning.
As a wing commander he flew Lightnings in Gutersloh, Germany, and was promoted to Group Captain, served as air attaché in Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
He returned to Norfolk in 1976 to take charge of RAF Neatishead.
His 70th birthday was celebrated at Norwich airport where he was treated to a flight and his 80th at Duxford where he had a flight with his grandsons in a De Havilland Rapide.
In retirement, he assisted with the Air Training Corps as well as supporting the development of the new village hall and helping to organise the local fete with his wife.
He also enjoyed swimming at Sea Palling.
He is survived by Merle and leaves two sons, Paul and Brian, and six grandchildren and a great-grandson.
A funeral service will take place at Holy Trinity, Ingham, on Monday, January 28 at 1pm.